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Minister Chan: Singapore must be open to skilled foreign talent in tech

The Minister for Trade and Industry said that the country has only a small window to build a critical mass of high-end professionals, start-ups and companies and it cannot afford to sit back and do nothing

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Singapore — In his speech in Parliament on Monday (Sept 2), Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing expressed the need for Singapore to be open to accommodating highly skilled tech professionals in the fields of artificial intelligence and cyber security.

Singapore cannot afford to have an “inward-looking, protectionist approach” like other countries when it comes to protecting local industries and developing technology.

He cited how countries such as Thailand and France created special visa programs to lure skilled professionals in the industry.

As such, the government justifies the new Tech@SG program which aims to facilitate the hiring of skilled foreign professionals in tech companies.

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Companies applying for Tech@SG need the following requirements:

  • Be incorporated in Singapore
  • Have a digital or technology offering
  • Have a business model built around proprietary technologies, research, or hardware
  • Have secured more than S$13.9 million in venture capital funding
  • Have received Tech@SG-recognised venture capital funding within the last three years

“If Singapore sits back and does nothing, we will almost certainly be left behind. We have only a small window to build a critical mass of high-end professionals, start-ups and companies,” Minister Chan said.

Rather than view foreign talent as competition in the labour market, Minister Chan stated that such workers complement the country’s existing workforce and “encourage” Singaporeans to think of innovative ideas.

“In a world where multi-sectoral, cross-discipline and cross-cultural teams are increasingly common, Singaporeans must learn how to work with people from all around the world,” he said in an initial report by The Straits Times.

Minister Chan added that hiring global tech talents makes it easier for companies to scale up their operations, citing companies such as Alibaba, Grab, SAP and Taiger.

“We must be prepared for these fast-growth companies to recruit the skills they most require… In the short-term, these skills may come from global professionals. But, we must take a strategic view on this to reap the long-term rewards for Singaporeans.” -/TISG

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